|Publication number||US7571553 B2|
|Application number||US 11/566,095|
|Publication date||Aug 11, 2009|
|Filing date||Dec 1, 2006|
|Priority date||Dec 1, 2006|
|Also published as||US20080127999|
|Publication number||11566095, 566095, US 7571553 B2, US 7571553B2, US-B2-7571553, US7571553 B2, US7571553B2|
|Inventors||Steven John Joerger, Michael Paul Ricklefs, Sean Florian Myers|
|Original Assignee||Electrolux Home Products, Inc.|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (80), Non-Patent Citations (1), Referenced by (5), Classifications (12), Legal Events (3)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
Automatic clothes dryers typically include a dryer user interface through which users can control dryer settings for drying loads of laundry. Dryer control user interfaces have typically included a combination of components such as dials, buttons, light emitting diodes (LEDs), and/or digital displays to control and/or display dryer settings. Despite the previous attempts to improve upon conventional dryer interfaces, there remains a need for a dryer control user interface that allows users to quickly, simply, efficiently, and unambiguously set modes of operation, times, and other dryer settings.
According to a first aspect of the invention, a laundry appliance includes a control element and a user interface, which may be located on a control panel. The user interface has a mode display region for indicating an operation mode for the laundry appliance and a numerical display region for indicating a value of a variable associated with a mode for the laundry appliance. Based on a sequence of operation modes and multiple values of the variable associated with the mode, manipulation of the control element changes the operation mode and its indication in the mode display region, and also changes the value of the variable associated with the mode and its display in the numerical display region, based on the sequence.
According to another aspect, a laundry dryer includes a rotatable control knob, and first and second displays. The first display is configured to display at least one of a plurality of options corresponding to a first menu. The second display is configured to display at least one of a plurality of options corresponding to a second menu. The second menu is a submenu of the first menu such that the plurality of options corresponding to the second menu are each associated with a first menu option. The rotatable control knob is coupled to the first and second displays so that the dryer (a) changes the first display from displaying a first option from the first menu to displaying a second option from the first menu in response to a first rotation of the rotatable control knob; (b) changes the first display from displaying a second option from the first menu to displaying a third option from the first menu, and displaying on the second display a first option from the second menu in response to a first subsequent rotation of the rotatable control knob; and (c) changes the second display from displaying a first option from the second menu to displaying a second option, while continuing to display the third option of the first menu in the first display in response to a second subsequent rotation of the rotatable control knob. The first and second options of the second menu correspond to sub-options available that correspond with the third option of the first menu.
In yet another aspect, method for controlling the operation of laundry appliance having a user-manipulable control element, a plurality of primary operational mode state settings corresponding to control settings of the laundry appliance, and a plurality of secondary operational mode state settings corresponding to a designated primary operational mode state setting, includes three mode changing steps in response to detections of manipulations of the control element. A first step changes the primary operational mode state setting from a first operational mode to a second operational mode in response to a detection of first manipulation of the control element. A second step changes the primary operational mode state setting from the second operational mode to a third operational mode and designating a secondary operational mode state setting as a first operational mode in response to a detection of a first subsequent manipulation of the control element in the same direction as the first manipulation. A third step changes the secondary operational mode state setting from the first operational mode to a second operational mode while maintaining the setting of the primary operational mode state setting as the third operational mode in response to a detection of a second subsequent manipulation of the control element in the same direction as the first manipulation and the first subsequent manipulation.
According to yet another aspect, a dryer control user interface enables a user to control multiple modes of operation and multiple time increments associated with the modes of operation by rotating a single control knob, without the need for secondary buttons or a base cycle position to control the dryer mode operation and time settings. Upon detecting the rotation of the control knob, a determination is made whether the currently selected operation mode has associated operation times which are to be presented to the user. If no associated operation times are to be presented, the user interface display is updated to the next mode of operation. The operation mode may be part of a first display region and the operation time may be part of a separate second display region.
According to another aspect of the invention, a user interface enables a user to traverse into and select values from menus and submenus in a hierarchy using a single control knob. As the knob is turned in a single direction, the user interface display is updated, both with values from a menu and with values from a submenu associated with specific values of the menu. A turn threshold for the control knob may determine the point at which the next set of menu values or submenu values will be displayed. According to yet another aspect, the control knob may be turned in the opposite direction to traverse the opposite way through the menu hierarchy.
The above and other objects, features and advantages of the present invention will be readily apparent and fully understood from the following detailed description of preferred embodiments, taken in connection with the appended drawings.
With reference to
User interface 10 includes a primary control element 19 whereby the user may input a desired setting for the laundry appliance. In one arrangement, the primary control element is a user-movable element in the form of a rotatable control knob 20. The control knob 20 is mounted to the control panel of the dryer 15 in an independently rotatable fashion to allow the user to turn the knob 20 in a desired rotational direction (i.e., clockwise and/or counter-clockwise; see arrow 21). The primary control element 19, e.g., knob 20, is used by the user to traverse through a menu/submenu hierarchy.
Alternative primary control element 19 embodiments that could be used in lieu of knob 20 include a three-position center-biased slider, a three-position center-biased pivotable toggle, and two closely spaced discrete buttons grouped together. In one arrangement, as depicted, the primary control element 19 is the only user control element for making a control setting selection.
An operation menu displaying modes and at least one multi-analog setting associated with one of the modes is part of user interface 10, and is preferably on control panel 16. In one arrangement, there is a mode menu 30 that informs the user of the currently selected mode for the dryer 15. In the depicted embodiment, the menu 30 includes a set of light emitting diodes (LEDs) 31-36, one for each corresponding operation mode. In this case, and with the laundry appliance being a clothes dryer, the modes may be: “Towels” designated by LED 31, “Bulky” designated by LED 32, “Normal” designated by LED 33, “Permanent Press” designated by LED 34, “Delicates” designated by LED 35, and “Timed Dry” designated by LED 36. Suitable text indicia of the operation mode are included on the control panel adjacent to their respective LEDs 31-36. In certain embodiments, only one operation mode is selectable at a single time, and thus only one LED 31-36 would be lit at a single time.
A display 40 is also preferably part of user interface 10, and is preferably also on control panel 16. The display 40 is usable with at least one of the modes. In the illustrated embodiment, the display 40 displays numerals corresponding to at least two settings other than “on” or “off”. For example, display 40 may display numerical data, usable in association with at least the Timed Dry mode in the depicted arrangement. For example, the numerical display 40 may serve as an estimated time remaining display 40 to provide time information (e.g., as a digital display of minutes) to the user during the selection of the operation mode and time by the user, and during the drying of a load of laundry. Display 40 may take the form of an LED display or an LCD, or any alternative display arrangement capable of displaying numeric data. In addition, the display may display settings data in a non-numerical form, such as letters of the alphabet (e.g., A, B, C, etc.), which may or may not form text messages, or other characters or icons. Such characters or icons may be indicative or time intervals or other operation settings related variables.
Referring now to
If this mode were selected, the user-selected operation mode (“Towels”) would begin based off of defaults operational instructions stored in the controller of the dryer 15. For starting the operation of the dryer based on the current mode, any suitable arrangement may be used. In one arrangement, the dial 20 or at least a portion thereof may axially displaced either by being pushed in or pulled out. Such axial displacement would be sensed and would initiate operation of the dryer. In alternative embodiments, a distinct user control input element can be used and such, when selected, would initiate operation of the dryer. The laundry appliance may then be operated to carry out operation in the selected mode as is known in the art.
If the user chooses not to select for operation the “towels” mode, the user can turn the control knob 20 of the dryer 15 in the same direction (e.g., clockwise), the different menu selections in the operation mode menu 30 are displayed in sequence on the user interface 10. Thus, for example, when the current selection is “Towels” 301, and the towel mode LED 31 is lit on the user interface 10, turning the control knob clockwise will change the current user-selected mode to “Bulky” 302. The user will be notified of the change via the LEDs 31-32 as LED 32 would illuminate and LED 31 would turn off. The user may then select the Bulky mode or continue to move through the menu. For example, if the user continues to turn knob 20 in the same direction, it will change the current user-selected mode from “Bulky” to “Normal” and the user will be notified of the change as LED 33 would illuminate and LED 33 would turn off. These are shown in the state diagram of
According to the depicted embodiment, this navigation would sequentially move through the states 301-305 and LEDs 31 to 35 until the user rotates the control element 19 to reach the “Timed Dry” mode. The “Timed Dry” mode makes use of the numerical display 40, and does so as a time-based variable in a secondary menu. When the user rotates the control knob 20 to past the “Delicates” operation mode, the operation mode becomes “Timed Dry” and a numerical variable is displayed in display 40. In this example, the number “10” is displayed in the display and the state would be “Timed Dry 10.” In other words, if this was selected, the dryer would operate for 10 minutes and would automatically turn off after that predetermined period of time. This state is reflected in
As the user continues (or resumes) turning the knob in the same direction, Timed Dry mode LED 36 will remain lit while different time values (e.g., “10:00” (306), “20:00” (307), “30:00” (308) “40:00” (309), “50:00” (310), and “60:00” (311)) are digitally displayed in the display 40. This is reflected in States 306-311 of
The state transition arrows in
Although this example only describes a two-level hierarchy of menus and submenus, the present invention is not limited as such. The dryer 15 may integrate many levels of menus, submenus, sub-submenus, and so on, all of which may be accessible through the turning of a single control knob 20. As in the above two-level example, when a submenu is encountered while traversing through the selections of the top-level menu, the traversal of the top-level menu is stopped while the submenu is traversed completely. Similarly, if during the traversal of that submenu an embedded tertiary menu is encountered, traversal of the submenu will stop until all of the selections in the tertiary menu have been traversed. This pattern will continue recursively until the hierarchy is completely traversed, thus ensuring that every possible selection in a menu or any submenu becomes available to the user through the use of a single control knob 20.
Returning now to
Each column of boxes in
Additionally, though not shown in this example, the time increments in a single submenu need not be the same within that submenu. For example, a dryer control user interface 10 may be configured so that the first three “Timed Dry” operation times are 5 minutes, 10 minutes, and then 20 minutes.
Additionally, note that all of the state transition arrows in this example are one-directional. As mentioned above, this indicates that the user in this configuration will need to keep turning the control knob 20 in the same direction to cycle through all possible selections in the menu/submenu hierarchy before returning to the start of the hierarchy. Such configurations, with only one-directional state transition arrows, may provide certain operational advantages with respect to user interface design. For example, a state transition diagram such as the one shown in
Further, the number in the display need not correspond to time and can correspond to another variable forming a submenu. For example, in the Delicate mode, multiple numbers could be used to designate the degree of delicates. Thus, you could have states “Delicate 1”, “Delicate 2” and “Delicate 3” reflecting a degree of delicacy of the laundry to be dried. Thus, a setting of “Delicate 1” could be used as a setting for the routine delicate laundry, and a setting of “Delicate 3” could be used for the most delicate laundry. In such an arrangement, the numerical display 40 would display a “1”, “2”, or a “3”, for example, to designate a non-time numerical variable setting.
However, in step 201 if the user turns the control knob 20, then the controller of the dryer 15 detects this action and determines in step 202 if the knob 20 has been turned enough to reach the turn threshold. A turn threshold is a predetermined rotational distance (e.g., a number of degrees of rotation) that the knob 20 must move before the dryer controller determines that the selected operation mode and/or operation time for the dryer 15 should be changed. Of course, some dryers 15 may be configured to have no turn threshold, meaning that the operation mode and operation time will be updated whenever any amount of turning of the knob 20 is detected by the controller.
In contrast, for dryers 15 with a turn threshold, a user might just slightly move the control knob 20 without reaching the turn threshold. In case a such, the controller determines in step 202 that the operation mode and time of the dry cycle are not to be changed based on the movement of the control knob 20. However, subsequent continuing movement of the knob 20 might still be determined to reach the turn threshold. Thus, in step 203, if the user is still turning the knob 20, then additional measurements are made to determine if the turning is substantial enough to reach the turn threshold.
When a more substantial turn of the control knob 20 has occurred, and the turn threshold is reached in step 202, the controller determines that the user is attempting to update the mode and/or time settings for the dryer 15. Accordingly, control continues on to sections 204-206 to determine and update the new user-selected operation mode and operation time.
The turn threshold may also be coordinated with other related components of the dryer control user interface 10 to improve usability. For example, a notched control knob 20 and/or corresponding notches on the control panel adjacent to the knob (i.e., a detented arrangement) may provide a desired amount of resistance and may correspond to discrete turn thresholds for user convenience. In more complex systems, haptic feedback and other force feedback technology may be integrated into the controller knob 20 to improve the overall user experience of the dryer control interface 10.
In step 204, the controller determines whether the operation mode or operation time dryer setting is to be updated (e.g., by traversing the menu-submenu hierarchy as described in greater detail with reference to
The updating steps 205 and 206 may involve both updates of stored information in the controller of the dryer 15, and updates to the dryer control user interface 10. For example, during the operation mode update in step 205 described above, the controller may switch off the “Normal” LED 33 and switch on the “Perm. Press” LED 34. During an operation time update in 206, the controller may change the value displayed in the estimated time remaining screen 40.
After updating either the current operation mode in step 205 to the next operation mode, or updating the current operation time in step 206 to the next operation time, control proceeds to step 203 to determine if the knob 20 is still being turned by the user. If the control knob 20 is still being turned, the new turn distance is once again compared to the turn threshold in step 202, before performing another mode or time update in steps 205 or 206. Thus, as long as the user continues to the turn the control knob 20, the mode and time settings for the dryer 15 and the user interface 10 will be continually updated as the different possible variations are cycled through.
Referring back to
Using these components, users may set the appropriate temperature, mode of operation, dry time, completion signal, and other settings for their drying loads. Many more drying features and user preferences are now supported by modern dryers, making the efficient use of the limited space in the dryer control user interface a relevant consideration. According to a conventional dryer user interface, several different dryer operation modes, for which the drying time is automatically determined, are positioned around a single dial in a dryer control user interface. Additionally, one or more “Timed Dry” operation modes, for which users specify the drying time duration, are positioned around the same dial. Certain shortcomings arise from this conventional interface. Namely, the multiple operation modes and times can become crowded around the single dial, resulting in user difficulties in locating and setting the desired mode and time settings. This system greatly simplifies usage. It reduces the possibility for a laundry mode to be selected in error as compared to other laundry appliances. This is especially helpful as laundry appliances are sometimes installed in basements and garages where lighting conditions may be less than ideal.
The present invention has been described in terms of preferred and exemplary embodiments thereof. Numerous other embodiments, modifications and variations within the scope and spirit of the appended claims will occur to persons of ordinary skill in the art from a review of this disclosure.
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|U.S. Classification||34/378, 34/600, 34/381, 381/89|
|Cooperative Classification||D06F58/28, D06F2214/00, D06F2216/00, D06F2058/2883, D06F39/005|
|European Classification||D06F58/28, D06F39/00P|
|Mar 12, 2007||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: ELECTROLUX HOME PRODUCTS, INC., OHIO
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:JOERGER, STEVEN JOHN;RICKLEFS, MICHAEL PAUL;MYERS, SEAN FLORIAN;REEL/FRAME:019039/0651
Effective date: 20061206
|Jan 31, 2013||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 4
|Jan 31, 2017||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 8